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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 27th November 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 27th November 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Remuneration

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Prime Minister what considerations underlay the rates of remuneration of (a) members of police authorities and (b) members of health authorities and non-executive directors of trusts.

The Prime Minister: Remuneration reflects the duties and responsibilities of the individuals concerned.


Ministerial Statements

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Prime Minister if the statements made by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces on 20 November about the mentality of the Princess of Wales represented Her Majesty's Government's policy.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend made it clear that he was speaking in a personal capacity.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister if the statement made by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces subsequent to the television broadcast of the Princess of Wales represents the view of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend made it clear that he was speaking in a personal capacity.


EU Finances

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what account he has taken of the Official Journal of the European Communities, C303, volume 38, for 14 November 1995 in determining Her Majesty's Government's policy.

The Prime Minister: I welcome the European Court of Auditors' annual report on the implementation of the 1994 budget published on 14 November. I believe that the court's reports are an important tool in improving the management of the Community's finances and I will continue to insist that the full account is taken of them.


Arms Exports

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what is Her Majesty's Government's policy on assessing the degree to which children have been involved in past conflicts in countries for which export licence applications for military equipment have been made.

The Prime Minister: We are committed to a responsible policy of defence equipment sales and routinely encourage other arms suppliers to observe similar responsibility in their own export policies. We take into account the human rights record of recipient states when considering applications for an export licence.

The United Kingdom is committed to promoting human rights worldwide.


Human Rights (Turkey)

Mr. Alton: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what priority he will accord to the human rights record of Turkey in respect of its treatment of the (a) Assyrian, (b) Armenian and (c) Greek Christian minorities in determining whether to support Turkey's admission to the European Customs Union;

(2) if he will make a statement on his discussions in respect of the persecution of (a) Assyrian, (b) Armenian and (c) Greek Christian minorities in Turkey arising during his meeting with Prime Minister Tansu Ciller.

The Prime Minister: I did not specifically touch on the question of Christian minorities in Turkey with Prime Minister Ciller. We discussed the outlook for human rights in Turkey, and Mrs. Ciller assured me of her commitment to further reforms. We fully support the proposed Customs Union between the European Union and Turkey, and we hope to see it launched on schedule at the start of 1996.


Head of State

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received regarding the constitutional position of the head of state.

The Prime Minister: I have received a number of representations on constitutional matters.


Asylum and Immigration Bill

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library copies of the letter sent to him by the statutory Newham police communities consultative committee dated 17 November concerning the proposed Asylum and Immigration Bill and his reply.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Home Department has replied to the Newham police communities consultative committee.


Crown Estate

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister who owns the Crown Estate.

The Prime Minister: The Crown Estate is held in right of the Crown, but its income forms the major part of the hereditary revenues of the Crown that have been surrendered to the Exchequer in return for the civil list by each monarch since 1760. The Crown Estate is managed by Commissioners under the Crown Estate Act 1961. Copies of the Commissioners' annual reports are available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister what official valuation has been made of the Duchy of Cornwall estate.

The Prime Minister: Information on certain of the Duchy of Cornwall's capital assets is shown in the annual accounts presented to Parliament. The accounts for 1994, presented on 7 June 1995, HC 464 record the net sum as £86,913,196. Assets such as the unique Isles of Scilla have been in the estate for centuries and are regarded as inalienable; these and other long-held assets are not reflected in the figure. By charter and statute, the capital assets cannot be eroded. The Duchy Management Acts 1863-1982 make the Treasury responsible for the capital to generate income for future Dukes.


Crown Jewels

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the items which constitute the Crown Jewels.

The Prime Minister: By a strict definition the Crown Jewels are the objects used or worn by the Sovereign during the ceremony of the Coronation. The most famous of these are the Imperial State Crown, St. Edward's Crown and the Jewelled Sceptre. However, the expression Crown Jewels is used colloquially to cover the contents of the Jewel House at the Tower of London, an inventory of which is maintained by the royal collection.


Princess of Wales

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will make a statement on the constitutional implication of the views expressed by Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales about the possibility of her becoming Queen;

(2) if his statement of 9 December 1992, Official Report, column 845, that there is no reason why the Princess of Wales should not be crowned Queen in due course still represents Her Majesty's Government policy.

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to my statement of 9 December.


Deregulation

Mr. Steen: To ask the Prime Minister what is the total estimated annual saving to business which will accrue in respect of the rules and regulations he identified for repeal in his answer of 6 November, Official Report, column 546.

The Prime Minister: In addition to the £40 million savings identified in my answer of 6 November, Official Report, column 546, further examples identified include: £30 million a year from simplification of trade marks legislation; £23 million a year from changes in the regime for the slaughter of poultry; £10 to 15 million a year from simplification of the procedures under the Companies Act 1985 for companies which have ceased to trade; cash flow savings of £75 million a year as a result of raising the threshold of the quarterly payment of PAYE and national insurance contributions from £450 per month to £600 per month. The total annual saving to business arising from all regulations identified for amendment or repeal is not available.


Small and Medium Enterprises

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Prime Minister what percentage of his Department's expenditure in 1994-95 was spent on procuring goods or services from small and medium enterprises.

The Prime Minister: For these purposes my office is part of the Cabinet Office. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given today by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service.